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Words have power.

Words can start and end wars, cement friendships, alienate people, insult, compliment, horrify, mollify, and amaze.

Words can change the course of history.

Words represent ideas, they are the wings by which ideas take flight.

When writer BK Loren became aphasic, she lost her ability to associate words with concepts in her brain. Life lost meaning, literally. She sank into an impossible void. Devoid of words, her lifeblood was gone.

"In those years without language, I was limbless. I had no way to reach out. I had no way to touch others or myself."—BK Loren

Words have power.

A nation’s leader is impeached; his crime was one of words.

A journalist fabricates a story, they are only words, and yet his job is gone.

A personality says insulting words on the television or radio, the network fires him—his fans write letters full of angry words to get him re-hired.

They say that the pen is mightier than the sword, but surely that pen has no might apart from the words it helps to create.

"They will use [language] to create wars, to manipulate leaders, to rape people, to sell.” – BK Loren

Words have power.

Words can turn into actions as quickly as you can shout "fire" in a crowded theatre.

A good joke makes us laugh, a bad one makes us groan, a nasty comment can ruin our mood, a particularly unpleasant story leaves us feeling out-of-sorts for hours.

Has the poet or novelist ever taken your breath away? Has the pundit ever moved you to anger? Has a well-crafted essay ever brought you to tears or peals of laughter?

"...communication is the cure for all human problems; we are the only species that through all forms of communication can resolve escalations of internal feelings. —Ryan J. Steele

Words have power.

And yet they are only words. How can they have any real effect? No crime has been committed here, they are only words.

Maybe they have no more power than we give them. We give them a lot—we can't help it, it is how our brains are wired. Language is everywhere.

"Sticks and stones may break my bones
But names will never hurt me
."—traditional schoolyard rhyme

Words have power.

We enshrine our children's first words and hold our parents’ last words in our heart like scripturesacred words.

In totalitarian societies, one of the first things the despots try to suppress ... you guessed it: words. The founders of the United States felt so strongly about this that their first amendment to the Constitution (quite a nice collection of words there) guaranteed that the government would not suppress free expression of ideas—words again.

"Language is a virus from outer space." —William S. Burroughs

Words have power. Perhaps words are power.


BK Loren exerpts are from "Word Hoard" Parabola Magazine, volume 28, number 3, Fall 2003 (pp. 46-49)
Ryan Steele quoted from "What Makes us Human?" online at http://www.cicsworld.org/blogs/rjsteele/2006/12/what_makes_us_human_1.html

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